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Online Games and Gamification

Points, badges, quests, oh my! We have officially entered a new era where the world is being turned into one big game.

News, fitness, eating, debate, conservation, networking, and cocktailing have all been gamified. Gamification is an attempt to take reward models from games and apply them to real-life actions.

Games use “game mechanics” to keep players engaged. Game mechanics are rules and rewards that keep players wanting to move forward. You might complete a task to be rewarded with achievements, points, or a spot on a leaderboard. Given a little bit of encouragement every now and again, players will spend hours and hours glued to a game!

Gamification applies these ideas to inspire real life actions. It’s an attempt to make real life activities as addictive as games. And, people love games! Cityville, a new game by the makers of Farmville, went from zero users to 6 million users in just 8 days– imagine if you could use the same tricks to get 6 million people on your web site, visiting your restaurant or tweeting about your cause!

We’ve been reading, watching and listening to some really smart people who are thinking about how to create awesome games, and how to apply game mechanics to make real life better.  Come join us on our path to learn more about games and ramification!


Jesse Schell: Visions of the Gamepocalypse
Game designer and Carnegie Mellon professor Jesse Schell’s engaging talk on a game-filled future. For bonus points, you can watch his (somewhat) more subdued talk, “Design Outside the Box”.


Gabe Zichermann: Fun is the Future: Mastering Gamification, Victoria Van Voorhis: Getting Serious Games into the K-16 Classroom, and Amy Jo Kim: Putting the Fun in Functional
Three videos on gamification that will make you want to work at Google, for no other reason than the awesome folks they have “dropping in” to chat.


Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
This book is all about how to live a better life hidden inside a psychology book about “flow” – what would more commonly be known as “being in the zone.” We guarantee that you will get a lot out of this one, even if you don’t care a lick about games.


The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell
Another gem by Jesse Schell. This is his irreverent guide to game design.


A Theory of Fun by Raph Koster
Raph Koster’s book on game design is filled with loads of ridiculous sketches and useful strategies for how to make your game something great.


Reality is Broken by Jane McGonical
This is a jumping off point for all things Jane McGonical, who happens to be one of the coolest gamers and thinkers out there. In this book she argues that the world would be a better place if everyone were a gamer. Sound crazy? You’d better check out the website to decide!

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